The University of Florida has been in the spotlight in recent weeks due to attacks on women, on campus.
According to UF police on clickorlando.com the attacks are happening quickly and aggressively. "These women are getting grabbed from behind, they're being thrown down violently, they're being attacked and this guy is running when there's a struggle,” said University of Florida Police Chief Linda Stump.
Former UF student and parent, Katherine Hickinbotham, believes that more should be done to protect our students on campuses.
“I think college campuses offer a false sense of security for women when, in reality, women on campuses are more vulnerable than in the average population. I am not implying that colleges and universities promote this sense of security. Rather, it is a mindset held by collegiate community, in general. They feel invincible, as if nothing could possibly happen to them in the cocoon of their college campus.
"I was at UF in 1990, when Danny Rolling brutally murdered five students. It took us all by complete surprise. We were shocked that anything like that could possibly happen in our small, close knit college community… but it did… five times before it stopped.
Many women on college campuses put themselves in vulnerable situations and think nothing of it. My advice, as a former college student who did not always make the safest decisions -- I was lucky, to say the least -- would be the following: never walk alone at night; always be aware of your surroundings, including what is going on behind you; carry pepper spray; always check the back of your vehicle before entering; and remove yourself from any situation that could be potentially dangerous. If it does not feel right, it probably is not.”
Here are a few quick additional tips that every young adult, male and female, should keep in mind to protect themselves from potentially harmful situations.
1. Never use a cell phone or iPod when walking alo. Starring down at a bright screen, or having headphones in, is one of the easiest ways to find yourself in danger on a school campus. Make sure to not have distractions while you are walking to your next destination. Aggressors look for students who are vulnerable and not paying attention to make the attack easier for them. Don’t let yourself fall victim to an attack just because of a stupid Snapchat story; it can wait.
2. Don’t walk alone and always rely on the buddy system. While this system is typically only used in elementary schools, and when venturing off into the unknown of bathrooms in a bar, it's one tip that can save your life. Walking in pairs not only reduces your chances of being attacked, but also gives you better a better chance of fighting someone off who may threaten your life. Make sure to have at least two other people with you at all times when walking the campus at night. If you do not have someone to walk with you, be sure to take advantage of the UCF Safe Escort Patrol Service (contact information below).
3. Trust your instincts. If you feel like you may be in danger, chances are something isn’t right. That feeling you used to get in the pit of your stomach when you were lying to your parents’ faces has more purposes than giving you the guilt of a century. Your gut instincts are almost always right, so don’t ignore it if it tells you something is up. In the wise words of every mother out there, it is better to be safe than sorry.
4. Have a way to protect yourself if you are put in a dangerous situation. I believe that pepper spray is something all female students should be required to carry with them, at all times. Let’s face it, ladies, as much as we would like to pretend we could take on anyone that even dares to cross our path, having a little back up is never a bad thing. Besides, nowadays you can get pepper spray in cute containers that fit perfectly in your purse or on your car keys.
5. Take advantage of the UCF PD and emergency posts. UCF has 150 emergency posts in heavy foot traffic locations all throughout campus. All emergency posts can be located on the UCF map on the UCF emergency website. If you are unable to find a post or feel that you are in immediate danger, call 911 right away. UCF PD is there to protect students, so take advantage of their services if you feel that you may be harmed.
College campuses are not something that we should be afraid of 24/7. Typically, most campuses at night are filled with students just wanting to go grab a slice of pizza after a long study session with their roommates. Most students on campus are your average student and, overall, I do not think that college campuses are in danger of any major threats. However, that does not mean that we should be any less cautious. Staying alert at all times and being aware of one’s surrounding is what can determine the outcome of an attack. Be smart, be safe, and always be on your guard.
Numbers to Know:
The UCF Safe Escort Patrol Service is free, seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. (407) 823-2424
If you need a safe escort, and it is after 1 a.m., please contact the UCFPD at (407) 823-5555.
If you would like more tips and tricks on how to stay safe on campus, take advantage of the UCF PD Women Self Defense class. The class is only $5, and you can register at police.ucf.edu or by calling (407) 823‐3224.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of an assault, or any other crime, please contact the UCF Help Hotline at (407) 823-1200 or visit their website at http://victimservices.ucf.edu/.